A shocking percentage of Americans are cool with refusing service to interracial couples

While it’s nice to think that our country is sometimes on the right track, statistics like this remind us that there is still a lot of work to be done. In a study conducted by sociologists at Indiana University, 39% of Americans support refusal of service to interracial couples. And 53% of Americans support service-refusal to same-sex couples.

A Colorado discrimination case is the primary inspiration behind this new study. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments after a CO baker refused to serve a same-sex wedding on religious grounds. In the study, sociologists took into account the type of business (self-employed or corporate), religious beliefs, and identification of the couple (same-sex or interracial). The researchers included interracial couples in the study for comparison.

Despite the fact that, by law, race is a protected category, Americans expect businesses to discriminate based on race. While 61% of those in the study said self-employed businesses could deny service, only 31% of Americans said corporate businesses could deny service.

But let’s not simplify this: 31% of Americans still believe that big corporations should be allowed to deny service to interracial and same-sex couples.

This part of the study doesn’t even have anything to do with religious beliefs. Not that that’s an excuse to deny anyone service, but it shows that a business’s religious values are not the main component in how Americans view or engage in discrimination.

Brian Powell, professor at IU and director of the study, said it was striking that two in five participants straight-up supported denying service to interracial couples. "Race is a protected category," said Powell, "and despite that, many people say you can deny service."

But is it really that shocking? America is still very much a racist and discriminatory country. If anything, this study reiterates what many of us already know or have experienced. Self-employed or corporate, religious or not, minorities still struggle with being fully accepted.